How To Prepare For SHTF In Just One Day

As preppers, we pride ourselves on being ready for any emergency situation which might arise.

More than anything, this means having the supplies and gear to deal with the situation and provide our families with the basic necessities of life, even if nobody else has them. But what would happen if we suddenly found ourselves in the situation of being faced with a potential disaster and we didn’t have any of our preps around?

Think that can’t happen? It just happened to me. You don’t need to know the details of how, because that’s immaterial to today’s discussion. But here are a few examples of how any of us could end up in this situation:

  • Traveling out of town when a hurricane strikes
  • An earthquake or wildfire destroys our home
  • We are unable to make our way home for some reason
  • We are forced to leave our home, either due to criminal invasion or even something as mundane as a divorce, coupled with a restraining order

I’m sure there are other possibilities, but these are enough for now. In any of these cases, the only survival gear that you would have available to you is your bug out bag, everyday carry bag or survival kit. In addition, it’s safe to say that you’d have the clothes on your back, the credit or debit cards in your wallet and the survival knowledge you’ve stored up in your head.

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With only that to work with, what do you do? How can you prepare to survive a disaster with minimal time and minimal resources? For the sake of argument, let’s say that you’re in the path of a hurricane and all the planes are grounded.

Knowledge Trumps Gear

In a situation like I am describing, you really can’t count on your survival gear and stockpile of supplies, other than what you manage to take with you. Some situations might allow you to grab a bug out bag or you might have an EDC bag with you. But if you are traveling, you might find yourself without even these basics to work with. In such a case, the only thing you can count on is your knowledge.

Fortunately, knowledge is king, when it comes to survival. If you have the right knowledge, you’ll be able to procure, scrounge, harvest or create the equipment and supplies you’ll need. As a prepper, at an absolute minimum, you have the experience of having prepared at home. That provides valuable knowledge. Hopefully you’ve added other knowledge and skills to that.

Just like knowledge trumps gear, gear trumps supplies. If all you have are supplies, then once you run out of supplies, you’re in trouble. But with the right equipment, you are able to create or harvest more supplies. This isn’t to say that you should ignore stockpiling supplies to get gear, but rather than that, you shouldn’t ignore getting the right equipment in order to have a larger stockpile of supplies.

Don’t Forget Your Priorities

I don’t care what sort of disaster you are facing, the priorities for survival remain the same. In order to survive, you’re going to have to meet those basic priorities. If you don’t, your chances of survival are greatly decreased. Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, those priorities are:

  • Maintaining your body heat
  • Clean water
  • Food

Secondary priorities are:

  • Fire
  • First-aid
  • Self-defense

Keep in mind that it is harder to meet these survival priorities in the midst of a disaster, than it is any other time. While there may be water falling by the bucketful in a hurricane, it won’t be clean drinking water. It would be especially dangerous to scoop water up out of the street, as you won’t have any idea of what sort of contaminants it might have. Not only that, but you would get soaked to the skin getting that water, bringing the potential of hypothermia.

Evaluate Your Situation First

Before doing anything, you need to take stock of your situation. What kind of threat are you facing? How soon is the threat going to manifest, assuming it does? What’s the weather like, especially the temperature? Is there any way you can clear the area, before the threat occurs? Is there any way you can mitigate the impact of the threat on you, such as moving away from the shore? What do you have to work with? How much money do you have available to you?

Based upon the answers to those questions, you need to develop a plan for getting through the pending disaster. You obviously don’t have time to do a full-blown, detailed plan, but you need something to give you direction. Otherwise, you’re going to end up like all the other people out there, just running around grabbing what you can.

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Your plan has to deal with the basic requirements of meeting the essential survival priorities. That means finding, procuring and preparing the necessary equipment and supplies to get through the disaster and its immediate aftermath.

You should also think a bit farther down the road, as to how you are going to flee the area, once the disaster has passed. However, your ability to plan for this will be limited, as you have no way of looking forward to see what the situation is going to be like. Roads and bridges might be damaged or destroyed and airports might be closed.

Shelter Has to Come First

Your number one priority is to maintain your body heat. Even a drop of a couple of degrees of core body temperature is extremely dangerous, leading to hypothermia and possibly death. With our potential scenario of a hurricane, the wind and rain will make it very hard to maintain your body heat if you don’t have shelter.

Shelter doesn’t have to be fancy, but it has to protect you from rain, wind and cold. It also has to be something that will ride out the storm. Seeking shelter in a vehicle and having that vehicle be swept away by flooding doesn’t do any good. Nor does getting a hotel room as shelter, if the storm breaks the window of your room, allowing the wind and rain to come inside.

We have to consider heat or at least fire, along with shelter. One of the key questions we asked above is about the weather, specifically the temperature. If the temperature is going to be 60 degrees, fire really isn’t an issue; you can survive without it. But the same can’t necessarily be said for 30 degrees and it definitely can’t be said for 10 degrees. If you have to provide yourself with heat, that might be the biggest survival challenge you face, while away from home.

Staying Dry is Key to Staying Warm

When it comes to prioritizing shelter, keeping dry is the number one priority. Your body will lose heat much quicker if it is wet, than if it is dry. Wet clothing provides no insulation and will usually cause your body to shed heat faster than if you were completely naked.

Remember, your body temperature is 98.6°F. That means that anytime the temperature is below that point, you are radiating heat. While you won’t radiate heat quickly at 70°F, if you have dry clothing on, you will if your clothing is wet. Even though 70°F seems like a reasonable temperature, the fact is, you can get hypothermia even then.

Water Purification is Better than Water Storage

Unless you have a huge water tank available to you, there is no way that you can practically stockpile enough water to get you through more than a few days. I live in a hurricane zone and every time there is a potential for a hurricane, the stores sell out of water. But a few cases of bottled water isn’t going to be enough to get anyone through. They’d be better off going to the local sporting goods store and buying a water filter, so that they can filter the water flowing down the street.

Yes, by all means, get some water bottles or better yet, gallons of water. Those gallon jugs will help you with filtering water to use, but don’t allow yourself to be fooled by a big stack of water bottles, it’s not going to be enough.

You Can Get by Without Food

Even though food is our number three survival priority, the reality is that you can live for quite a while without eating. For many of us, that might even be a good idea, allowing us to shed some unneeded pounds.

There is a lot of disagreement about how long you can live without food. Part of that is because it differs for each person. Some of us can live for longer than others, just because of the amount of energy we have stored in the fat cells in our bodies. Another factor is how we define surviving without food. If all we’re talking about is that our bodily functions remain active, we can go a whole lot longer than if we’re talking about being able to manage the physical activity necessary for wilderness survival.

But at a minimum, you should be able to survive for 30 days without food. Yes, your body will suffer for it and so will your energy level. But you’ll be alive and able to function. That’s what matters. So, if all you’re worried about is getting through a few days of a hurricane and maybe another week of trying to get out of town, food really isn’t a major priority. Your body may try to tell you that it’s dying of starvation, but it’s not.

Where Can You Get Supplies?

We’ve all seen the pictures of what a grocery store or Wal-Mart looks like when a disaster is bearing down on a community. People who aren’t prepared panic and run to the store to grab whatever they can, often the wrong things. This makes it hard for you and I to get the things we need, if we are caught in the same circumstances as they are.

One very important thing we need to realize is that those photos are taken of the aisles which empty out the fastest; water, bread, meat, dairy, things like that. Most people will buy the kinds of foods that their family is used to eating, not realizing that their purchases won’t survive when the power goes out.

But there will be a lot of food that gets overlooked, especially the types of non-perishable foods that you and I are accustomed to stockpiling; canned goods, rice and beans and other foods which will keep us alive, while their food is spoiling.

Another good place to look, which most people won’t even think of, is a restaurant supply. While much of their food will be frozen, they also carry packaged mixes for bread, cakes and a variety of other things. The packages will be much larger than you need, but if you have measuring cups available, you’ll still be able to cook the food.

Don’t forget the sporting goods store either. There’s a lot of camping gear that does double duty as survival gear as well. In addition, many sporting goods stores carry freeze-dried foods for backpacking, essentially the civilian version of military MREs. Sam’s Club also carries pre-packaged survival food in five-gallon buckets, which most people will overlook, as they run to fill their carts with food.

Don’t Overcomplicate Your Preparations

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in this sort of situation is to overcomplicate your preps. You don’t really need solar panels to survive a hurricane, even though it would be nice to be able to recharge your cell phone afterwards. Neither do you need to stockpile 1,000 rounds of ammunition. Don’t think about everything you could do to prepare yourself, think only about those things you have to do in order to be ready and stop there.

Within a day and with less than a couple of hundred dollars, you can actually do everything you need to, in order to prepare for that hurricane. No, it won’t be as comfortable as being back home, you won’t have everything you need to have in order to be comfortable. But you will have everything you need to have in order to survive and that’s the point of the exercise.

Written by

Bill White is the author of Conquering the Coming Collapse, and a former Army officer, manufacturing engineer and business manager. More recently, he left the business world to work as a cross-cultural missionary on the Mexico border. Bill has been a survivalist since the 1970s, when the nation was in the latter days of the Cold War. He had determined to head into the Colorado Rockies, should Washington ever decide to push the button. While those days have passed, the knowledge Bill gained during that time hasn’t. He now works to educate others on the risks that exist in our society and how to prepare to meet them. You can send Bill a message at editor [at]

Latest comments
  • Thank You, Bill. You have covered the essentials, the Smart Way. Good Work !

  • What a bunch of bullshit!
    What this shit was called? “Surviving after 24 hours”? Where?!!!…
    This idiot thinks everybody lives, or is in wilderness when SHTF! Bad news! 80% of human beings, at least here in America, live in a metropolitan area, or close to one. Sure, some of the basics apply, but dynamics are completely different. And once SHTF, I wouldn’t advise to run into rural areas, unless you have friends or relatives there. Usually guys and gals in remote areas love their privacy, and have guns and plenty of ammunition to defend it!

    • Alibaba –Don’t shoot the messenger. If you don’t agree with Bill White’s article, simply move your hand up to the delete button and move on.

      • Totally agree. People are going to do what their most comfortable with. But you have to use your head and keep an open mind.

    • You don’t have to be so rude to voice your opinion
      Personally, I find good information by this author. He can’t say what to do on every single possible scenario
      He is giving the basic, common sense information that you should be prepared in ANY situation. He’s not saying run to rural areas. If you were in this last hurricane what would you do. What he says is giving you examples of what is important. I can tell by your verbiage that you think there isn’t anything someone could tell you that you don’t know because you are an extreme survivalist. Don’t come knocking on my door cuz I too have my ammo to defend. Get off your high horse.

  • Alibaba,, first off you are full of it. And with a name like that you might be one of the thieves. I talked with a guy and he said the same thing. He said he would come and take my survival stache with extreme prejudice if he had to. I told him ditto, I too would protect and defend my family, myself and property. I don’t think the law or emergency services will arrive to help you. BTW, I always bring a knife to a gunfight. Oh yeah I have learned to throw a knife hatchet and a axe.. The Military taught me self defense, offensive and defensive to carry out my mission which is to protect and serve. That means being prepared like the Boy Scouts as I am still one. Just think, I may see you at my home. Again, I believe in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I obey the Ten Commandments. Except I do not think thou shall lnot Kill when attacked. I will turn the other cheek which will be yours. LOL. Please call upon your God to protect you. Profiling why not. You started this conversation with a simple mind. If this offends you I don’t care. I defended my country which I love,, my family and friends too. I support the police, firefighters and my President Mr. Trump God Bless him. And for your safety please don’t show up on my doorstep. May God have mercy on you.

  • Just did a little research and apparently you can go for 30 days without food. But it wouldn’t pleasant. There is insufficient scientific data on exactly how long people can live without food. Although the length of time varies with an individual’s percentage of body fat and general health, one medical study estimates that in adults complete starvation leads to death within 8 to 12 weeks. There are isolated cases of individuals living up to 25 weeks without food. Starvation begins when an individual has lost about 30% of their normal body weight. Once the loss reaches 40% death is almost inevitable. The whole thing still scares the bejesus out of me. If SHTF comes to pass there is a fairly large city relatively close to me with a population of approx. 6.5 million people in the extended area of the major city. They can’t go south so if a true major crisis happens they have no choice but to head north to find food. And I’m north of them. Less than a day’s walking distance. Even up here, in Canada, things seem to be getting a little desperate. And it seems to be more with the young. And this is still supposed to be peace time. In Canada the good. Something very bad is affecting people and it manifests as violence and anger. Gun violence seems to be increasing. Just a heard a news item on the radio the other day. There’s an intermediate city maybe 10 miles from here. There was a young man walking through the main part of town with a baseball bat and a knife. Should I start to wearing a knife just in case others are? What in the heck is starting to happen to people? God help us all if a true nightmare scenario actually happens. The streets will run red with blood. Doesn’t matter if you have a million rounds of ammo. Sooner or later it will also run out. We’ve talked ad nauseum about how all the scenarios might play out. At one time I thought it might be a good idea, out of compassion, to give the stranger that comes to your door a bit of food to tide them over. That’s naivety. If you give food to one, even if it’s a starving mother and children, you can pretty well guarantee that the next day there will be 10 more at your door. More than likely with weapons and bad intent. And these gangs may resort to these kinds of tactics to find out who has food or not. So if SHTF actually happens we are all going to have to become very hard and tough as regards strangers. During SHTF I’m coming to the door with a weapon loaded and ready to go. Every time. As much as we would like to, we just can’t afford to help the strangers that may come to our door. Help one and you have to help all of them. Doesn’t work. And I know that my heart will break many times during the crisis and I’ll be forced to do things that I couldn’t begin to imagine in my worst nightmares. None of us will remain unscathed and we will come out the other end changed.

  • We live in a small farming/ranching community about 50 miles from the nearest city. Here most every one knows who lives here. If people come to me, I will send them to one of the farmers and tell them to hire on as a laborer. That is the best way to have a stable supply of food. If you rob and steal, soon sources will run out or some one will shoot you.

  • Thinking, gaining knowledge, making a plan, gathering what you need if possible. Wether you walk out, drive out or hunker down till the problem passes, plan on surviving. Look at what you must have and put it together where you are. If you can’t or don’t know what you need you’ll be dependant on others and you may not like it as well.
    If someone came with a tent, food, and it’s short term, I’d let a few camp on my land. Might even let them recharge a phone or light from my side 110 plug on the solar array that powers my home. If you can do chores or are a handy man able to fix, install, or do something I need done; I’d send a stewing hen or extra rooster over for your cookpot. Might even butcher a rabbit. Might have to do an extra chore if you want the skin as well.
    If you show up empty handed and want to live off of what I have worked hard to have… Move on or have a run in with my side arm.
    I see folks coming through this country camping for a few days at a time on rural road rightaways. Not my best scenario but if it’s all you have folks would usually let you fill some empty milk jugs or your containers of water. Take care of yourself beyond that and no one is too likely to bother you unless the whole area is actually starving then everyone beware.
    I’ve let bicycle campers stop for the night here. We’ve had some really great times with campfire stories, inpomptto guitar serenades, a cowboy poet, a sketch artist, a German tourist, and an aspiring comedian. All were great company and left the site as they found it. If we decided they were good company I cooked at a fire pit and invited them to join us. I’ve just turned away one that I got a bad feeling about. I pay attention to that.
    If you showed prepared to care for yourself, a few days is no bother.
    Getting out of a city, in a bad time, with no supplies, with no plan, and no place to go, is a disaster waiting to happen.
    A good thought provoking article.
    Luckily many of us at least have gained knowledge and can make a quick plan. And hopefully a quick getaway or quick supply to fit the plan.

    • @ Clergylady Whenever you post your comments here, Clergylady, you sound like such a wonderful person with a really good heart and lots of knowledge and experience at roughing it. You’re a person I would be proud to call friend. But I do worry about you a little bit. Because you do have such a good heart. And I think that will get you in trouble in a true grid-down continent-wide situation. We cannot even imagine what it will be like when you have over 300 MILLION desperate, starving people willing to do anything to survive. It’s never happened before. You’re talking about helping people out in peacetime when everyone still has somewhere to go back to. When their bellies are still full and they are fairly content and happy. But when SHTF I think the reality of the situation is that you just CAN’T afford to help people no matter how desperate they seem or how well-intentioned you are or how much you want to. And I know that it makes me sound like a really bad person and I’m really not. I’m just trying to be as realistic as I can as to what MAY occur when the big one happens. I’m aware what’s happening with people now and they seem to be getting worse every year. And this is still supposed to be peacetime. If things go truly south there will be gangs roaming the countryside with nothing but evil and bad intent in their hearts and minds. There will be rape gangs. There will be just purely evil violent gangs. There will be all kinds of gangs looking for anything to help them survive and they will scour the earth clean just like locusts flying over the landscape. Things will be happening that we just can’t begin to imagine now. Many people will revert to their animal nature when they are starving and desperate enough. There is no way that you can let ANYONE know that you have supplies stored away in this kind of situation. And if you let it slip out to the wrong person you are risking life and limb. You won’t be attacked by single individuals. You’ll be attacked by gangs, maybe even up to a hundred strong or more. How are you going to successfully defend yourself against that? You help one person that seems very nice and kind and in your compassion you want to help that person. You let them camp for one night. Then it turns into a week. Then that one person tells others and all of a sudden you find yourself under siege. I know how it makes me sound, Clergylady, but I truly believe in my heart that if SHTF does really happen in our lifetimes then the reality of the situation will be that we can’t help anyone. And we have to be especially careful of friends and relatives no matter how much we love blood relatives unless they are already on board with what we’re trying to do and they are also preparing. Just as an example look what happens to so many families when it comes to splitting up the proceeds from a will. It produces a schism in so many families and this is just about money being shared by blood relatives. Can you even begin to imagine what nay occur when MILLIONS of people are truly starving and desperately out of their minds with fear and hunger? You help that one person. You give them food. They work for you for a while. You don’t know they’re a scout for one of the worst gangs scouring the land for whatever scraps are left. Game over for you. No, sorry. Come to my door. I come to the door with a weapon ready and loaded and cocked. Sneak onto my property at night I won’t give you the benefit of the doubt and I’ll shoot to kill. Even if it makes me sound like the worst person on the planet I cannot afford to help even that one person coming to my door looking for food. Even if it’s a young woman in ragged clothes with a baby in her arms begging me for food. That’s a perfect ruse for a scout for a gang. People will become very creative in their quest for food and supplies. Think of the movie, “A Clockwork Orange”. Gangs so whacked out on drugs that they WILL be more like animals than humans. I have no choice but to say no as difficult as that will be for me. If I don’t I will become the PREY and I WILL be eaten. Maybe even literally. I’m sure that some people will revert to cannibalism. When everything is down I will have to harden my heart and I will also have to severely ration myself so that I don’t look so well fed. As one last example look at what’s still happening in Venezuela. The people are literally starving. They’re leaving the country if they can. Crime has increased. Prostitution has increased. Black market is probably thriving IF you still have anything to trade with. Venezuelan currency is totally useless. They predict an inflation rate by the end of the year in Venezuela of around 1 MILLION percent. In the end, Clergylady we all have to make our own decisions and live with the consequences. But in a true continent-wide grid-down situation, and I’ve said this before, I don’t think any of us can imagine what the reality of the situation will be like when that happens. I think the real situation will be many, many times worse than ANYTHING we can or want to imagine.